Monitoring your company’s systems and processes, as opposed to monitoring the work output of your individual employees, may be the answer to boosting your company’s productivity by 9% to 10% annually, suggests a new article by Harvard Business Review.
A little over half (52%) of Canada’s P&C insurance industry is working from home in some form of hybrid work arrangement, according to a September online survey of more 300 industry respondents conducted by Canadian Underwriter. And so, P&C industry employers may be tempted to ask whether their workers are as productive at home as they are in the office.
But the question is misguided, say authors Rohan Narayana Murty and Shreyas Karanth in their recent Harvard Business Review blog. Badly designed work processes can cause an estimated annual productivity loss of 9% to 10%, the authors say.
Using company data and analytics to track and capture individuals’ daily work output may be masking broader problems with systems and procedures that are the true cause of the company’s inefficiency, according to Narayana Murty and Karanth.
“Consider questions that productivity tracking software can answer,” the authors write in their blog. “How many minutes did Tim spend on the phone? How long was Tim away from his desk? How many times? How many keystrokes did Tim execute today, before lunch vs after lunch?
“First off, all of the answers to these questions will be about Tim, not his team. Answering them strips away his privacy and the minute-by-minute audit sends a message that he’s always being watched, never just trusted to do his job.
“Moreover, these questions ignore the environment he’s working in and don’t surface how the work is being done, what’s broken in those processes, and how it might be improved.”
Companies would be better off using aggregated, anonymized data and analytics to capture their employees’ touchpoints with the company’s systems and processes each day, to see if there are any bottlenecks or friction points, say the authors.
Much like insurers and brokers try to track how customers engage with their organizations, employers should turn this process inward, so they can better identify and design how their workers interact with the company’s systems.
“Data and technology have created powerful new ways to understand how work gets done,” Narayana Murty and Karanth observe in their blog. “Monitoring tools have focused on individuals, but the real opportunity is for companies to use them as a mirror to understand their own systems.
“Most companies already have a precedent for how to do this. Retail companies invest millions of dollars to map customer journeys. Previously, this was done through surveys and interviews. But to do this at scale, they use technology and data to understand customers’ experiences and make those experiences efficient, intuitive, and pleasant.
“Just like customers, digital workers create volumes of data everyday as they work, and employers can use this to build a work graph, or a digital map of how teams experience work, to see where processes are broken and make them better,” the article reads.
“Identifying and fixing sources of friction in a work environment leads to more productive teams.”
Feature image courtesy of iStock.com/filo